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Jaded old bastards that we are, when we first saw the trailer for the documentary Sailing With Copepods earlier this year, we didn’t expect much; 15 years of Sailing Anarchy means we’ve seen literally hundreds of ‘trailers’ for sailing movies that either never get made, or should never have been made. 

So when the film’s creator Barbara McVeigh sent us a private screener for the full, 20-something minute movie, we were intrigued, and then we watched it, and it was blown away.  Racing With Copepods is an instant classic, and a film you’ll rush to show any kid you know and love.  Have a peek at the trailer above, and read Barbara’s note below for more info on an absolutely stunning piece of cinematography that should have a long lasting effect on every child’s introduction to the sport. 

This is my first film as a producer. I had the vision, wrote the grant, co-wrote the film and produced the film with co-writer and film director Carlos Grana.  We had two weeks to pull production together once we received funding from Schmidt Family Foundation,  and when we began our work, an entire international team of sailors and scientists came forward to help us. Then came Dr. Sylvia Earle. We had little money, but we understood the gravity of an important message to convey – our ocean needs help and we’ve got kids coming into the world.

As a mother, sailor and educator, I asked myself “what is the most important work on this planet today?” To me, the answer is easy: It’s the ocean’s health. Nothing else matters unless we have a healthy ocean.

People are very land-base minded, as the child in the film Racing with Copepods recognizes and speaks about. We have to change this, considering our planet is mostly water. We know more about mars then we know about our very own planet. Yet, we get up to 70% of our oxygen from the plankton in the water. Our oceans are acidifying – that measures up to bad news.

Ironically, it’s often the billionaires who have profited from this damage, those involved in fossil fuels and more,  who are still plying the waters for trophies in high-end boats.

As sailors, we have the highest responsibility to convey this message. People like Sir Robin Knox-Johnson have made their life, their name, their fame and their knighthood because of the ocean. But is it time yet to look back with greater respect to the legendary Bernard Moitessier, the man who was so far ahead of Johnston on that first-ever non-stop round-the-world race that he was assured of a win and instant fame, only to drop out and race around the globe again in order to make a bold statement about the ocean and his own spirit?  In years to come, his honor will be highest.  And with the oceans acidifying and dying off at a frightening pace, maybe now is the time to start being more like Moitessier. It’s time that the sailors who have benefited from the ocean give back on the highest level possible.

Billionaires spend small fortunes on carbon-fiber masterpieces to enjoy their racing.  How about if some of them match a small portion of what they spend on racing to the places it needs to go if their children and grandchildren are to enjoy a living ocean? That means ocean foundations and science education, and currently only 5% of all environmental foundation money goes to ocean work.  It’s not enough.

Historic sailors brought us to new lands. Today’s sailors can take us to a higher ground. Who’s on board?

The full version of Racing with Copepods will be available online after March. In the meantime, we’d love to see your support for the Sailing Education Adventures for science and sailing programs, and a $15 suggested donation gets you a private link or a DVD of the whole thing.

Aussie Eco-warriors can come and screen our film next month in Hobart, Tasmania at the inaugural Eco Film Festival.  Come and meet our team, along with panelists: Dr. Richard Kirby, Taylor Griffith, Carlos Grana and me.

More screenings are lining up. Follow us on Facebook for the latest.

Barbara McVeigh
Sailor, Writer and Film Producer